Top Healthcare HR Initiatives for 2019

Marketing Specialist

With the combination of an aging workforce and a growing demand for services, the ongoing search for talent will continue to rank among the top human resources concerns for healthcare organizations through 2019 and beyond. 

While the talent shortage alone would be enough to test HR departments for the next several years, ongoing digital transformation and the incorporation of emerging artificial intelligence and automated tools — particularly in the recruiting space — are forcing further adaptation.

Here’s a look at how HR departments are navigating some of these complex issues. 

Moving Beyond Just Certification and Availability In Hiring 

Mitch Rodgers, Director of Health Care for Talent Plus Inc., says more healthcare organizations are starting to rethink how they identify quality candidates for key positions. He says healthcare has traditionally hired based on a few key factors, such as a degree, certification and availability  — especially for clinical roles — rather than focusing on what has made a candidate successful in the past. 

“A successful nurse wasn’t necessarily successful because he or she got their degree in four years,” he says. “They are successful because of their empathy toward patients, their ability to effectively communicate with colleagues and their passion for providing extraordinary care.”

Rodgers says changing this mindset, a process he calls “challenging the history of healthcare,” doesn’t come easily and requires an overhaul of a company’s strategy and vision with buy-in from the executive team. 

“In that regard, HR is the ice breaker leading a fleet of ships to help change the future and outlook of its organization, by moving ahead and finding the talent and people to help execute on the strategy and mission,” he says. “HR can facilitate change by leveraging solutions, technology and strategies that enable them to define what the future of healthcare looks like as it moves forward from history.”

More Streamlining of the Hiring Process

If the healthcare worker shortage increases as expected in the coming years, the need for more efficient ways to identify and recruit talent will climb as well. That means new technologies driven by advances in AI and automation, as well as better internal processes, will become necessities for healthcare organizations to effectively compete for talent, says Jan Wilson, Director of Learning Design and outcomes for Relias, a healthcare talent and performance solutions firm. “People don’t want to wait for three weeks for someone to get back to them,” she says. 

Wilson says new automated recruiting tech is already prevalent in acute care organizations that have the resources and need for these tools. But she says post-acute healthcare facilities have started to indicate more interest in these types of automated tools for recruiting and candidate identification.

“They’re very interested in that and they’ve never had any tools that have enabled them to do that before,” she says. “I think that is something they will very much gravitate toward. It’s proven in acute care and vendors like ours have a deep well of data that we’ve collected on the acute level of how well these things work.”

More Effort and Resources On Retention

Navigating the talent shortage is not all about recruiting. Retention of an organization’s current workforce will also play a key role. “Turnover and employee engagement is still an issue because the economy is strong and people have so many options,” Wilson says.

She says career-pathing, employee satisfaction surveys and better use of data are all going to get more attention within healthcare organizations of all sizes. “They really are trying to come up with ideas to keep people engaged,” she says. “They’re just kind of new at it. Some of the smaller companies, especially nursing homes and in the behavioral space, have never done that before, so it’s a learning curve for them.”

Wilson says her firm has also been more frequently working with clients on teaching front-line managers how to provide feedback, which is driven by a desire to better engage employees. “That’s getting a renewed focus when it comes to the learning and development area of HR,” she says. 

Even amid all the tech coming our way, building a strong healthcare organization of the future will mean focusing on people first.